AQAP, Yemeni forces battle in south

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula continues to expand its military operations in southern Yemen. While AQAP forces fight the Yemeni Army to a standstill in Zinjibar, the provincial capital of Abyan, other AQAP military units have been attacking government forces in Abyan, Lahj, Baydah, and Hadramout over the past two months. Yesterday, an AQAP force attacked a Yemeni Army base in Lawdar, sparking heavy fighting. From Reuters:

Twenty seven fighters were killed in Monday’s clash with the army and five when warplanes bombed a checkpoint they were holding, officials and residents said. Eighteen soldiers, an army colonel, and six pro-government tribesmen were also killed.

A military official said the army drove the fighters away from the area around the camp. The militants said in an emailed statement that none of their fighters was killed in the clash, and threatened to attack Lawdar.

Intermittent gunfire was heard throughout the afternoon while the military carried out a second air strike, but no casualties were reported, officials and residents said.

Mohammed Nasser, a resident of Lawdar, speaking by telephone with the sound of artillery and small arms fire audible, said the fighting lasted three hours.

A local official said tribal militiamen joined the fighting alongside the military, and that at least 10 soldiers and tribesmen were wounded.

“We ask for the state and the army to provide us with heavy weapons because we are fighting with our own personal arms and the other side has advanced weapons like RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades) and bazookas,” said Ali Ayda, a tribal fighter.

Today, an additional 56 al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula fighters, four soldiers, and three tribesmen were killed during the second day of fighting in Lawdar.

And in Marib province, AQAP fighters attacked yet another Yemeni military outpost. Eight soldiers and five AQAP fighters were killed in the clash.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Rookie says:

    You have to love how Reuters can find a guy with a mobile in a dusty toilet of the world to give a report, and also how the 3rd world poors all seems to have guns while in Europe they probe you even for a sharp toothpick (soon to your shores, too, despite you might think).
    The signs in Yemen could be seen more than a DECADE ago, yet everyone took a blind eye to the prison escapes of murderous thugs and the mountainous al-quaeda bases. Guess the local population did not think jihad will hit them.

  • Will Fenwick says:

    There are also reports that AQAP seized four more tanks in its attacks on Lawdar, and that government airstrikes destroyed at least one of those tanks. It would be interesting to see how AQAP distributes the heavy materiel it has seized, whether it transfers it all to the front in Zinjibar or if it uses it in its push eastward.

  • Devin Leonard says:

    All the more reason to keep the drones up in Yemen to target AQAP untill they Yemin’s can get a handle on these SOBs.


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